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ument, and Chronicles as well, presents the past in an
altogether ideal light. They both transfer to remote
ages what exists in the present, or even what their

1 Chaps, xl.-xliii. 2 Hag. i. f. ; Zech. iv. 9 f. ; vi. 12 f.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 31. LEVITISM. 281

authors would like to see exist. It is therefore not
history that is to be sought in them, but the expression
of the religious ideas of the time when they were edited.
Let us see what were these ideas respecting the sanc-
tuary.

Document C describes in detail the construction of
the tabernacle of the desert, as well as the furniture
and the utensils required for worship, i The impossi-
bility of rearing such a sanctuary in an utter desert was
long ago demonstrated. Moreover, not the least trace
of it has been found in early documents.^ The Chroni-
cles, in which document C is already regarded as his-
tory, alone speak of it.^ But we have more to do than
simply to establish this negative result. We must
inquire after the religious thought that the authors of
the narratives that speak of this sanctuary intended to
express.

The principal idea that the Israelites always con-
nected with the places of worship is that Jehovah is
present at them. Since he is king of his people he
must reside in the midst of them. Now his peculiar
residence is the sanctuary. This idea is expressed
even in the old song, Ex. xv. In vv. 17 and 18 the
mountainous country of Canaan is called the heritage
of Jehovah, into which he will lead his people, and the
sanctuary, doubtless that of Zion, the abode that he has
prepared. It is also said that Jehovah is king forever,
evidently in the midst of his people, where he resides
and exercises his sovereignty. Elsewhere Jehovah in
his office of king of Israel dwells in the midst of the

1 Ex. XXV. ff. ; XXXV. ff. 2 Wellhausen, History, pp. 39 ff.

8 1 Chron. xvi. 39 ; xxi. 29 ; 2 Chron. i. 3 ff.



282 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

people, and especially in the temple, his peculiar resi-
dence, his throne, or more generally in Mount Zion and
at Jerusalem.^ Isaiah, in a vision, sees Jehovah, the
king, seated on his throne in the sanctuary. ^

In very many passages, to betake one's self to the
sanctuary is synonjmious with presenting one's self
before Jehovah, and whatever is or is done at the sanc-
tuary is or is done before Jehovah. ^ Consequently the
sanctuary is called the abode of Jehovah.^

This fundamental thought of the religion of Israel,
document C connects with the portable sanctuar}^
which it expressly calls the abode of Jehovah,^ or more
briefly the abode. ^ It says that there, and more espe-
cially over the ark, between the two cherubim, is where
Jehovah prefers to dwell, in the midst of his people,
and meet them, particularly Moses, to give them his
commands.'^ Since the place for the ark was in the
holy of holies,^ this was more especially the abode of
Jehovah. Moreover, this is nothing new. Even in
document A Jehovah appears to Moses, and speaks to
him in the tabernacle.^ According to other old passages,
Jehovah sits above the ark of the covenant between the

1 Amos i. 2 ; Isa. viii. 18 ; xii. 6 ; xxiv. 23 ; Mic. iv. 7 ; Jer. iii. 17 ;
viii. 19 ; Zeph. iii. 14 f. ; Hab. ii. 20 ; Ezek. xliii. 7 ; Joel iii. 16 f . ;
Ps. xxiv. 3-10 ; xlviii. 2 f. ; Ixviii. 24. 2 ig^. vi. 1, 5.

3 Ex. xxiii. 17 ; xxxiv. 23 f. ; Josh, xviii. 8, 10; Jud. xi. 11 ; xx. 1,
23, 26 ; xxi. 2, 6, 8 ; 1 Sam. x. 3, 17 ; xi. 15 ; xv. 33 ; xxi. 6 f.; 2 Sam.
V. 3; xxi. 7, 9 ; Deut. xii. 12 ; xiv. 23, 26 ; xvi. 11, 16 ; xxvi. 5, 10 ;
xxxi. 11 ; etc. ^ Deut. xii. 5 ; 1 Kings viii. 13 ; Zech. ii. 13.

^ Lev. XV. 31 ; xvii. 4 ; Num. xvi. 9 ; xvii. 13 ; xix. 13 ; xxxi. 30,
47 ; Josh. xxii. 19. e ex. xxvi. 1, 6, 12 f., 15 ; etc.

7 Ex. XXV. 8, 22 ; xxix. 42-46; xxx. 6, 36 ; Num. v. 3; vii. 89;
xvii. 4. s Ex. xxvi. 33.

^ Ex. xxxiii. 7-11 ; xxxiv. 34 f. ; Num. xii. 6 ff.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 31. LEVITISM. 283

cherubim.^ Finally it is said that, in the temple of
Solomon, the ark was placed in the holy of holies. ^

Document C, in a fashion very characteristic, ex-
presses the idea of the presence of Jehovah in the midst
of his people, by the order of encampment that it pre-
scribes, during the journey through the desert. The
portable sanctuary is to form the centre of the camp;
to the tribe of Levi is assigned the immediate neigh-
borhood of the sanctuary; beyond them, on all sides,
encamp the other tribes, in a perfectly symmetrical
arrangement.^ Those who consider this narrative with
historical discrimination can see in it only a fiction.
An encampment so regular, during the entire journe}^
through the desert, was physically as impossible as the
preparation of the magnificent tabernacle with all its
accessories. Thus it is necessary to see in it only the
symbolical expression of religious ideas presented in
the form of history. This camp in the desert repre-
sents the people Israel, in the midst of whom Jehovah
dwells, in the tabernacle, his residence, immediately
surrounded by the sacerdotal tribe, the only one that
has the right to be in direct relation with him, and the
one that serves as an intermediary between him and the
people.

It is only necessary to have called attention to the
principal religious thought, which in Israel was con-
nected with the sanctuary. For the details of the tab-
ernacle and the temple we refer the reader to archaeology
Traditional typology has tried to find profound thoughts,
revelations, predictions, in all the details of the Israel-
itish sanctuary, and especially of the tabernacle so

1 1 Sam. iv. 4 ; 2 Sam. vi. 2. ^ 1 Kings viii. 6 f. ^ Num. ii.



284 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

minutely described in document C.^ But these mysti-
cal and often eccentric interpretations have no founda-
tion in the Scriptures. Antiquity proceeded in this
respect with extreme simplicity. Moreover, if the
author of document C had really attributed to the sanc-
tuary and its different parts the significance that some
have believed to be found in them, he would have said
so distinctly and even repeatedly in order to attract
attention to it, as he does Ex. xxxi. 12-17 with refer-
ence to the significance of the Sabbath. ^ The best
proof that the ancients were not devoted to this mysti-
cal typology, so much cultivated in later times, is that
Solomon had the work on the temple done and the vari-
ous sacred objects fashioned by foreign laborers and
artists,^ who certainly had no profound knowledge of
the religion of Israel, and knew still less of the Chris-
tian religion, which an attempt has been made to find
symbolized in the sanctuary of the old covenant. Doc-
ument A says nothing at all of the way in which the
tabernacle was constructed, which proves that it attrib-
uted no importance to the matter. Afterward, it is
true, the opinion spread that the temple, like the
tabernacle, and the sacred objects in general, had been
made in accordance with divine instructions.* But
this view, represented by document C and Chronicles,
is of recent date, and it was inspired by the exaggerated
value that was placed upon external worship, and all
that contributed to worship, after the Exile. It is easy

1 Winer, Beahmrterbiich, art. Stiftshutte ; Knobel, Exodus u. Leviti-
cus, pp. 251 ff.; [Smith, Dictionary, art. Tabernacle'].

2 Knobel as above, p. 253. ^ i Kings v. 18 ; vii. 13 ff.
* Ex. XXV. 9, 40 ; 1 Cliron. xxviii. 19.



THIRD PERIOD. — §31. LEVITISM. 285

to understand how those who close their eyes to the
surest results of criticism, and believe that God gave
the pattern of the tabernacle to Moses and that of the
temple to David, are led to seek in these sanctuaries as
wholes, and in each of their details, divine thoughts,
mysteries of revelation. But as the early documents
say nothing of the kind, and these teachings are found
only in late documents, which generally present ancient
history in a very ideal and unhistorical light, we cannot
adopt this course.

IT. The Priesthood,

We have seen above that the liberty originally per-
mitted every head of a family to perform sacerdotal
functions, was little by little limited on account of the
abuses that it occasioned, and that the tribe of Levi,
from which the priesthood was from early times largely
recruited, by the legislation of Deuteronomy, obtained
the exclusive privilege of performing these functions.
But we have not fonud before the Exile any important
difference in the various priests, any religious hie-
rarchy of the priesthood, much less any classification
of the tribe of Levi into different divisions of sacred
persons. According to Deuteronomy, as we have said,
all the Levites were still priests, and all priests of the
same rank. This state of things was greatly modified
from the date of the Exile.

Here, again, it is Ezekiel who gives the first impulse.
He makes no mention of the high-priest, it is true;
but he establishes the distinction between priests and
Levites. It should, however, be observed that he es-
tablishes it only in the legislation which he proposes



286 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

for the future ; lie speaks of it, therefore, as something
that does not exist, and not as something of the past or
the present. According to him the sons of Zadok
alone of all the descendants of Levi, are to exercise the
priestly functions. ^ He excludes from it first, strangers,
the uncircumcised, and that in terms proving that pre-
viously even they were employed in the service of the
sanctuary.2 Further he excludes from it the unfaith-
ful Levites, who had devoted themselves to idolatry,
and assigns to them the inferior service of the sanctu-
ary. ^ We find here, as in 2 Kings xxiii. 9, where there
is also reference to a degradation of unfaithful priests,
the historical reason why a part of the Levites were
excluded from the priesthood, and the starting point
for the distinction between priests and Levites.

The legislative programme of Ezekiel proves that,
during the Exile, the ground was prepared for a new
ecclesiastical legislation, forbidding the assumption of
the priesthood to simple Israelites, and even making a
selection in the tribe of Levi. In document C, in fact,
the right to offer sacrifices is granted to Aaron and his
sons exclusively forever.* -A.ny other Israelite, even a
Levite, who presumes to perform sacerdotal functions
is threatened with death. ^ The priests are several times
called simply sons of Aaron. ^ They alone are to bless
the people^ and approach God.^ Over them is a high-

1 xL 46 ; xliii. 19 ; xliv. 15 ff.; xlviii. 11.

2 xliv. 7-9. 3 xliv, 10-14 ; comp. xlviii. 11.
* Ex. xxviii. 1, 41 ; xxix. 9, 44 ; xl. 13-15 ; Num. iii. 3.

5 Num. iii. 10, 38 ; iv. 15, 20 ; xviii. 3, 7.

6 Lev. i. 5; ii. 2 ; iii. 5, 13 ; vi. 14 ff. ; vii. 10, 33.
■^ Num. vi. 23 ; comp. Lev. ix. 22.

^ Num. xvi. 5 ; comp. iv. 19 f.



THIRD PERIOD. § 31. LEVITISM. 287

priest, or anointed priest.^ All the Levites who are not
descended from Aaron are placed under the command of
Aaron and his sons, to perform the inferior service of
the sanctuary.2 And just as no Levite can offer sacrifice
without being punished with death, so no lajanan can
meddle with the service of the Levites without suffer-
ing the same penalty.^ The high-priest can come into
immediate contact with God, in the holy of holies of
the sanctuary, only at the great feast of atonement;
he is threatened with death if he transgresses this com-
mandment.*

According to this legislation, therefore, God with-
draws himself completely from the eyes of his people,
from whom a triple sacerdotal barrier separates him.
The high-priest alone has the right to approach God,
and he only once a year. " In him alone Israel comes
into immediate contact with Jehovah, at one point, for
one moment: the summit of the pyramid touches
heaven."^ This tendency to raise an insurmountable
barrier between Jehovah and the common people has
its rise in ancient Israel.^ But it was long held in
check by the powerful current of prophetism, which
granted to every Israelite the right to approach God.
Not until after the Exile, when prophetism died out,
did it prevail. In characterizing as truly "colossal"
the difference between the former view and that ex-
pressed in document C, Wellhausen justly dwells on
the following point : " Samuel the Ephraimite, when on

1 Num. XXXV. 25, 28 ; Lev. xxi. 10 ; viii. 12 ; iv. 3, 5, 16 ; Ex. xxix. 7.

2 Num. iii. 6, 9 ; viii. 19 ; xviii. 2 ff., 23.

3 Num. i. 51, 53 ; viii. 19 ; xviii. 22. * Lev. xvi.

* Wellhausen, History, p. 149. e Ex. xix. 21-25 ; 2 Sam. vi. 6 ff.



288 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

duty, nightly sleeps near the ark of Jehovah where,
according to Lev. xvi., the high-priest alone has the
right to present himself once a year, and then only after
the strictest preparation and the performance of very
elaborate expiatory ceremonies."^ Another contrast
that deserves more particular attention because the
legislation of document C is represented as Mosaic,
might be noticed, viz. that according to document A
Joshua, an Ephraimite like Samuel,^ and a mere layman
withal, usuall}^ in his capacity of servant of Moses,
stays in the tabernacle of the desert.^

The author of document C, in his sacerdotal legisla-
tion, undoubtedly had an excellent object in view ; he
wished to help put an end to the abuses that favored
idolatry. But the radical remedy that he proposed,
and that succeeded only too well, resulted in Jewish
clericalism. Though he helped to eradicate idolatry,
he also helped to stifle religious life in forms, and led
the religion of Israel into a wrong path from which
the gospel alone could rescue it.

The influence that document C exercised on matters
in general, and the priesthood in particular, shows
itself especially in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and
Nehemiah. The priests are there called sons of Aaron. ^
Those who cannot prove their descent from Aaron are
excluded from the priesthood.^ Aaron is there regarded
as the first high-priest.^ He and his descendants Avere
set apart to perform the duties of the priesthood forever,

1 History, p. 131. 2 ^um. xiii. 8, 16. 3 Ex. xxxiii. 11.

* 1 Chron. xv. 4 ; 2 Chron. xiii. 9f. ; xxxi. 19 ; xxxv. 14 ; Neli. x.
38 ; xii. 47. & Ezra ii. 62 f. ; Neh, vii. 64 f.

6 Ezra vii. 5,



THIRD PElllOD. — § 31. LEYITISM. 289

and to bless the people ; ^ the other Levites are simple
servants of the priests, charged with the inferior service
of the sanctuary, 2 and more particularly with the trans-
portation of the ark of the covenant.^ It is only neces-
sary to compare 1 Chron. xv. with 2 Sam. vi. to see how
the history of times past was transformed to the eyes of
posterity, who imagined that, in the domain of worship,
everything had, since Moses, been done according to
the legislation of document C.

The early literature contains no sacerdotal theory, no
explanation or justification of the existence of the priest-
hood. The legislation of document A does not even
speak of the priesthood at all. This document presup-
poses its existence in Israel before the promulgation of
the law.* It is probable that in early times no need of
establishing a theory on this subject was felt. There
were priests in Israel as among the other peoples, be-
cause the common people feel the need of mediation
between themselves and the Deity; and because they
seek mediators, who, by reason of their peculiar sanc-
tity, find, they think, more ready access to the Deity.
This last was sufficiently justified hy the existence of
the priesthood everywhere in antiquity; it needed no
other warrant.

The first passages that claim the priesthood for the
tribe of Levi base this claim solely on the divine elec-
tion of this tribe. ^ Deuteronomy itself, in its latest
portion, though it gives much space to the priesthood,

1 1 Chron. xxiii. 13 ; vi. 49.

2 1 Chron. vi. 48 ; ix. 17 ff. ; xxiii. 24 ff.

3 1 Chron. xv. 2, 15, 26 ; 2 Chron. v. 4 ; comp. Num. i. 50 ff. ; iv.
15, 25 ff., 31 ff., 47. 4 Ex. xix. 22, 24.

^ Deut. X. 8 ; xxxiii, 8 ff. ; 1 Sam. ii. 27 ff.



290 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

contains nothing else on this subject.^ Document C,
in all respects theoretical, is the first to give a sacerdo-
tal theory. It is not content with emphasizing the
divine election of the priesthood, ^ it seeks reasons for
it. It declares that the first-born of Israel belong to
Jehovah, because they were spared the night when all
the first-born of the land of Egypt were smitten.^ It
says that Jehovah takes the Levites instead of the first-
born of the children of Israel.* The real reason for the
existence of the priesthood, according to this document,
is that Jehovah is too holy to come into contact with a
common mortal. All that it says about the priesthood
tends to make it a sacred caste, separate from the rest
of the people.

There is, first, the ceremony by which the Levites
are consecrated. Num. viii. 5-22. It is an act of puri-
fication (the word purification itself occurs several times
in the account) by which the Levites are separated from
tlie rest of the children of Israel, that they may belong
to Jehovah.^ The priests are consecrated with even
more solemnity than the Levites ; but their consecra-
tion also consists of acts of purification and sanctifica-
tion which separate the priests from the people, that
they may be set apart for the service of Jehovah.^ A
number of regulations indicate that the priests are to
be in a condition of peculiar holiness. Their food is
to consist of holy things, i.e. things devoted to God.^

1 Deut. xviii. 5. ^ Num. xvi. 5 ; xvii. 5 ff.

3 Ex. xiii. 2 ; Num. iii. 13 ; viii. 17 ; xviii. 15.

4 Num. iii. 12, 41, 45 ; viii. 16, 18. ^ Num. viii. 14.

6 Ex. xxix. 1-37 ; xl. 12-15 ; Lev. viii.

7 Lev. vi. 16 ff. ; vii. 6 ; x. 12 ff. ; etc.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 31. LEVITISM. 291

They must be free from every physical defect,^ must
not marry a woman who has been debauched, profaned,
or divorced, 2 must abstain from all mutilation of their
bodies,^ and can defile themselves by mourning only in
exceptional cases.* During the performance of their
functions especially, they must keep themselves Leviti-
cally perfectly clean, ^ and abstain from all intoxicating
drinks.^ Even the members of their families must be
clean ; if the daughter of a priest becomes a harlot she
must be burned." The high-priest in whom the priest-
hood reaches its culmination, and finds its most perfect
expression, represents at the same time the twelve
tribes of Israel before God.^ Thus when he commits a
sin all the people are guilty.^ He must receive a sep-
arate consecration, 1^ and wear garments which by their
magnificence help to enhance the splendor of his ap-
pearance. ^^ He must keep himself more strictly clean
than the other priests, never wearing mourning, nor
marrying any but a virgin. ^^ Qn account of this pecu-
liar holiness he may enter once a year into the holy of
holies, for the sake of making atonement for the whole
people. ^^ When he is clothed in his sacerdotal orna-
ments he wears on his forehead this inscription:
"Holiness to Jehovah," 1* which denotes the superior
sanctity with which he must be clothed in order to
worthily represent the people before the holy God, and
the holiness required by this God of the entire people. ^^

1 Lev. xxi. 16 ff. 2 j^ev. xxi. 7 ; comp. Ezek. xliv. 22. ^ j^ev. xxi. 5.

* Lev. X. 6 ; xxi. 1-4 ; comp. Ezek. xliv. 25.

5 Lev. xxii. 1-9. e Lev. x. 8-10. '^ Lev. xxi. 9.

8 Ex. xxviii. 9-12, 21 ff., 29, 36-38. 9 Lev. iv. 3.

10 Lev. viii. n Ex. xxviii. 2 ff. 12 Lev. xxi. 10-15.

1* Lev. xvi. 1* Ex. xxviii. 36 ff. i^ Lev. xi. 44.



292 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

Though all these regulations are found only in docu-
ment C, we must not conclude that they were all so
many innovations. If we omit details, and grasp the
essence of these regulations, we surely find in them the
expression of the idea that was always connected with
the priesthood in Israel, viz. that it was peculiarly
holy, and that in consequence it enjoyed the privilege
of approaching God, which the laity did not possess.
We have seen that, in ancient times, this sacerdotal
prerogative was but imperfectly developed in Israel;
but that it continually grew and reached its apogee
after the Exile ; and that it finds its legal sanction in
document C.



III. Religious Festivals.

1. The Sahhath. — Originally the religious festivals
in Israel were of a very simple character; they were
chiefly related to nature and agriculture ; but in time
this simplicity was lost, giving place to more theocratic
conceptions and more Levitical practices. We have
already been able to show to some extent that this was
the case ; we shall here make it more decidedly appar-
ent. The institution and the celebration of the Sab-
bath, as they were conceived by Judaism, iurnish at once
new proof of it.

We have seen that the humanitarian object of the
Sabbath, the rest to be granted to everybody on this
day, is the one most emphasized in the early documents.
Yet the day had, from the start, a religious character.
This appears from the decalogue, where we read:



THIRD PERIOD. § 31. LEVITISM. 293

"The seventh day is a Sabbath to Jehovah, thy God.''^
Document C says expressly, only reproducing, how-
ever, the thought of the decalogue, that the Sabbath is
a day consecrated to Jehovah. ^ The decalogue says
further that the Sabbath should be sanctified, set apart,
i,e. distinguished from the other days.^ Document C
declares, finally, that it must be for Israel a holy
thing.* Thus the Sabbath must be a day distinct from
the other days, and consecrated to Jehovah. Israel
belongs to Jehovah; they are his property, they must
give to him their life and their time. But, since the
exigencies of ordinary life do not allow them to conse-
crate all the days to their God, they must consecrate to
him at least one day of each week. The Sabbath, by its
frequent recurrence, constantly reminds Israel that they
belong, that they are entirely consecrated, to the God
of the covenant.^

Ezekiel adds to this conception of the Sabbath a new
element, which is reproduced in document C, viz. that
the Sabbath is a token between Jehovah and his people,
a token that Jehovah is the God of his people, and that
he sanctifies them, i.e. sets them apart that he may
make them his peculiar people.^ In this way the Sab-
bath is brought into intimate relation with the funda-
mental thought of the religion of Israel; it becomes
the token of the covenant between Jehovah and Israel."

Though the early prophets speak little of the Sabbath,

1 Ex. XX. 10 ; Deut. v. 14. 2 Ex. xxxi. 15.

3 Ex. XX. 8 ; Deut. v. 12. * Ex. xxxi. 14.

s Dillmann on Ex. xx. 9 f. ; Riehm, Handworterhuch, p. 1309 ;
[Smith, Dictionary, art. SahhatK].

6 Ezek. XX. 12, 20 ; Ex. xxxi. 13, 17. 7 Ex, xxxi. 10.



294 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

and attach no great importance to the celebration of
feast-days in general, ^ it is otherwise in the prophets
of the Exile, who strict^ enjoin the celebration of the
Sabbath, and severely reprove transgressors of this
divine ordinance. ^ In this respect, as in so many others,
the formalistic tendency gained ground at the time of
the Exile, even among the prophets, and afterwards
completely got the upper hand. Document C prohibits
even the most indispensable household employments on
the Sabbath,^ though there is no trace of such strictness
in the oldest documents, and it pronounces the penalty
of death upon those who do an}^ work on this day.* It
represents the Sabbath as a holiday from primitive times,
and as the fundamental religious festival, making its
institution date from the creation.^ According to the
passages cited, the Sabbath derived its origin from the
rest that God took on the seventh day, after having
created in six days the heavens and the earth. But
this reason for the celebration of the Sabbath itself pre-
supposes the idea of the Sabbath ; it dates from a time
more recent than the institution of the Sabbath.^
Wellhausen remarks that it would not be possible to
apply to the Sabbath, as document C conceives it, the
words of Jesus, that the Sabbath was made for man,
that it is rather a statute asserting itself with the
severity of a natural law, which finds in itself the reason
for its existence, and to which God himself must submit."

1 Hos. ii. 11 ; i. 13.

2 Jer. xvii. 21-27 ; Ezek. xx. 12 f., 20 f., 24 ; xxii. 8, 26 ; xliv. 24 ;
Isa. Ivi. 2 ; Iviii. 13 ; Ixvi. 23. 3 Ex. xvi. 23 ; xxxv. 2.


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